Causes of Pregnancy Gum Disease
Bleeding, sore, and swollen gums during pregnancy signal that you may have gingivitis, or gum disease.4 While this sounds scary, it’s usually temporary and is a very common condition during pregnancy. You may notice bleeding gums in early pregnancy, but the gum tissue tends to get more tender and swollen towards the end of the pregnancy.1,4
One study assessing the Gingival Index score (0 being normal and 3 being severe inflammation5) of women’s gums throughout pregnancy found that GIs peaked during the third trimester.4 A Gingival Index is a method used to record the severity of gum inflammation.7
Although the exact way it happens isn’t clear, healthcare providers think gingivitis during pregnancy may be due to rising levels of progesterone and oestrogen during pregnancy, which causes increased blood flow to the gums and increases the gums’ sensitivity to plaque bacteria.2
Good oral hygiene is the best way to address gum problems during pregnancy. Make sure you’re booking dentist visits while you’re pregnant, and get your dentist’s advice on brushing techniques and products to use to ensure you take care of your gums properly.
Treatments for Bleeding Gums During Pregnancy
Due to higher hormone levels throughout pregnancy, it may be a case of waiting until after your baby is born for the gingivitis to go away.2 During pregnancy it is key to keep your teeth and gums healthy, so make sure to go to the dentist so they can give your teeth a thorough clean and show you how to keep your teeth clean at home.3 It’s a good idea to see your dentist three times during pregnancy – once per trimester – to monitor your gums.1
At home, it’s important to maintain a highly effective daily oral care routine throughout pregnancy to help keep your gums as healthy as possible. It’s recommended that you:1,3
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day, for two minutes each time, being careful to cover all tooth and gum surfaces.
- Use a small-headed toothbrush with soft bristles.
- Use fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss every day to remove food and plaque from between teeth.
- Avoid mouthwash that contains alcohol.3
- Eat healthy snacks between meals if you’re hungry, such as vegetable sticks, fruit, or plain yogurt – avoid sweets and acidic foods.
- Rinse your mouth daily with salt solution (one teaspoon of salt dissolved in a cup of warm water) as this can help reduce inflammation in the gums. Swish the solution around your mouth a few times before spitting it out – don’t swallow it.
- Stop smoking if you smoke.
Medicines can affect the unborn baby. Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medicine in pregnancy.
Complications of Pregnancy Gum Disease
It’s vital to have dental checkups during pregnancy (the NHS provides free dental care during pregnancy and until 1 year after your due date3). Due to the increased risk of gingivitis, your oral health needs closer monitoring to ensure mild gum disease doesn’t progress into periodontitis. There’s no evidence that mild gingivitis harms unborn babies’ health. Periodontitis is a more serious form of gum disease causes gums to pull away from the teeth, leaving pockets in which plaque bacteria can infect deep inside the gum – it is important that this is treated by a dentist.2,6
Another complication of pregnancy on your teeth and gums is morning sickness. Rinse your mouth with water to remove stomach acid after being sick and wait an hour before brushing your teeth. Stomach acid weakens the enamel on your teeth, and if you brush too quickly, you can permanently brush away some of your tooth enamel.3
Gingivitis During Pregnancy FAQs
Will gingivitis during pregnancy go away?
Yes – mild cases of gingivitis that appear during pregnancy usually go away after the baby’s birth as your hormone levels return to normal.2 If your gums remain sore and bleeding after your baby is born, visit your dentist as you may need treatment.
Which hormone is responsible for bleeding gums in pregnancy?
Raised oestrogen and progesterone levels during pregnancy can cause gingivitis. It is thought that raised hormone levels during pregnancy cause gum inflammation due to increased blood flow to the gums or a decrease in the body’s ability to fight plaque bacteria.2
How common is gingivitis during pregnancy?
Gingivitis is incredibly common during pregnancy. Rest assured, it usually goes away after the baby is born, and it can be controlled and managed while you’re pregnant with regular dentist visits and an effective daily oral healthcare routine.2